Youth Wellness

At Helix & Gene, we’re commonly asked: ”How do I feed my children to stay healthy?”

Well, the answer isn’t always clear, but we have a few suggestions.

1) First and most importantly, eliminate all processed foods or significantly reduce them from your child’s diet. Use only well sourced whole foods. Children’s bodies need good nutrition that nourishes their vital systems and optimizes their metabolism. The bioavailability (the way the body absorbs nutrients) of many essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients is only optimally achieved through whole foods. A multivitamin supplement may seem great but in most cases vitamins don’t come close to real natural foods that the body is designed to absorb.

2) Yes, children need carbohydrates for their constantly developing bodies, as well as protein and healthy fats. But they surely do not need the extra refined, cane, corn, corn syrup or any other type of simple sugars in their diets. We recommend the main source of carbohydrates to come from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like rice, brown rice, oats etc) and legumes. 

You can make your own baked goods and simply substitute sugars with honey, agave or monk fruit sweetener, and replace flours with almond and coconut flour. In the case of a child having nut allergy, use a good organic gluten free flour, oats or baked sweet potatoes in place of all purpose or regular flour. Frozen cherries and blue berries make a delicious dessert.

We obviously know it’s impossible to eliminate all sugar from children’s diets, since added sugar is found in almost everything targeted to kids. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself and try your best to reduce them. The biggest villain is high fructose corn syrup. So when choosing a packaged product like peanut butter, cereal, or ketchup, try to get the brand that doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup.

3) Be ahead of their hunger!! It is hard enough for adults to make good decisions about their foods when hungry, and you shouldn’t expect anything more from children. Failing to plan is planning to fail! Before kids come home from school, have their ‘healthy before dinner snacks’ ready and prepared. Be one step ahead of them, before they’re tempted to go to the snack pantry. Have in front of them readily available super snacks! We love frozen or fresh blueberries, various nuts and healthy crackers or simply a platter with various fruits. This is a key step in feeding your children well and changing any ‘bad’ eating habits in your family into good ones.

4) Don’t forget hydration! Kids, as well as adults, require proper hydration. They often need to be reminded to drink, as they’re too busy to remember that they’re thirsty. Serve their fluids in containers that they like, as many children can have sensitivities to smell, texture and taste (water from stainless steel, glass and bpa free plastic containers taste and feels differently).

5) Fats don’t make you fat! Well, at least the good ones don’t. It’s crucial to stay clear of from bad fats and to incorporate as much good fats as possible. Fats are required for proper brain development, hormonal function, cell membrane integrity, and a list of other biological processes. They also provide good calories that make a child feel full, so they don’t seek bad calories in junk food. We at Helix & Gene recommend coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, grass fed butter, and fish fat as sources of healthy fats for children (as well as adults). We recommend avoiding corn oil or canola oil, especially for fried foods due to the toxic effects of their low smoking points, the refining process in production, and their GMO origins. We also recommend grass fed meat and pasture raised chicken and eggs. (We’ll discuss in more detail in another blog).

6) Finally, depending how old your kids are, we suggest you include them in the process of reevaluating and restructuring their foods. Tell them about the various nutrients that whole foods provide and how they can help their bodies function better. Have them help you

*Dr. Daniel Benilevi is a Board Certified Pediatrician and Co-founder of Helix & Gene.

Stay tuned for more blog posts and articles discussing health & wellness. You can also check out our podcasts from experts in the fields of health, fitness and nutrition.

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